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James Ensor (1860-1949)
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James Ensor (1860-1949)

Fridolin et Gragapança d’Yperdamme (Fridolin and Gragapança of Yperdamme) (D. 94; Cr., T. 95; E. 97)

Details
James Ensor (1860-1949)
Fridolin et Gragapança d’Yperdamme (Fridolin and Gragapança of Yperdamme) (D. 94; Cr., T. 95; E. 97)
etching extensively handcoloured with watercolour and crayon, 1895, on japon nacré paper, signed, dated and titled Fridolin et Gragapança/ ou James Ensor et Eugéne Demolder in pencil, countersigned, titled and inscribed AB in pencil verso, with wide margins, a deckle edge at right, the upper sheet edge verso glued to the mount, otherwise in good condition

P. 104 x 142 mm., S. 204 x 299 mm.
Provenance
Augusta Boogaerts (1850-1951), Ostend; a gift from the artist.
Mira Jacob Wolfovska (1912-2004), Paris, with her blindstamp (not in Lugt).
Exhibited
Strasbourg/Basel, 1995-96, no. 109.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

The figures represented in this etching reference a story written by Ensor’s friend, the author and critic Eugène Demolder called Les Contes d’Yperdamme, in which the character of Saint Fridolin appears. A flute-playing Ensor (Fridolin) makes Demolder (Gragapança) dance to his tune, an ironic commentary on the roles of artist and the critic. The depiction of Ensor playing music is not, however, merely fanciful. Demolder commented about his friend:

'…if Ensor had not been a painter, he would have been a musician. He always carries a tin-whistle, drawing bright, dancing sounds from it and there is nothing more gay than to see him, his long, thin fingers blocking the holes of his instrument, executing multiple variations with the air of a mocking satyr.’ (E. Demolder, La Libre Critique, 6 January 1895, p. 120-121; quoted in X. Tricot, James Ensor. The Complete Prints, F. Deceuninck, Roeselare, 2010, p. 189).

Ensor’s activities as a musician and composer are not widely known. In 1911 he completed a ballet called La Gamme d’Amour, which was finally premiered in 1924 in the Royal Flemish Opera in Antwerp. His approach was typically unorthodox as he played from memory, collaborating with other musicians such as Georges Vraimont (see lot 73), who scored his musical arrangements for symphonic orchestra.

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